Baby Dee, Tammar, The Silent Era
John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium (122 S. Walnut St., Bloomington)
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m., $7, all-ages
Classically-trained harpist, singer and transgendered performer Baby Dee will play Bloomington Wednesday in support of her latest CD Safe Inside the Day, released Jan. 22 on Drag City. The album, her eighth full-length since 2000, boasts an incredible supporting cast, including the likes of Will Oldham, Andrew WK and members of Psychic TV, Current 93 and Chavez.
Baby Dee got her start as music director and organist for a Catholic church in the Bronx. After a decade with the church, and a crisis precipitated by a conflict between religion and sexuality, Baby Dee made a drastic change, deciding to join the circus.
Traveling worldwide with various circus groups, she started out by working as a “bilateral hermaphrodite” at Coney Island, going on to tour with the Bindlestiff Family Circus and the Kamikaze Freak Show in Europe. When she came back to New York City, she started performing her own street show with a tricycle and a harp. The return to musical performance found Baby Dee releasing her first full-length CD “Little Window” in 2000.
Baby Dee wouldn’t recommend joining the circus to those in search of creative inspiration.
"The best preparation for writing great songs about that kind of circus-y side showy world would be to become a songwriter first and then maybe you could befriend a few freaks and empathize with them," she said in an e-mail. "The actuality is really a very poor preparation for writing about the thing."
Baby Dee has also collaborated with another New York City-based gender-bending singer-songwriter, Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons.
"We always had fun," Baby Dee said about her work with Hegarty. "Ant and I had a log of laughs together. He's nowhere near as serious as people make him out to be."
Little Richard is on Baby Dee's list of people she'd like to work with. "I adore him," she admitted. "But imagine how pale I'd look next to all that fabulousness."
Opening the Wednesday night show are The Silent Era and Tammar, both Bloomington-based indie rock bands.